On May 23, 2017, a Sukhoi 30 fighter aircraft crashed near Tezpur, Assam (north-eastern state), resulting in the death of two pilots. An inquiry made by the Indian Air Force (IAF) led to the discovery of the fact that the flying aircraft was cyber attacked when it was airborne. Analysts from New York (US) and St Petersburg (Russia) also warned India that the crash might be a result of “cyber-interference with onboard computers” in the cockpit. The analysts further added that due to interference with the system, the pilots may have found it difficult to activate safety ejection mechanisms even after knowing that the aircraft was in serious trouble. Such mechanisms too could have been crippled by computer malfunctions induced from an outside source. The aircraft crashed close to the border with China.
Analysts also pointed out to the apparent loss of five army vehicles “due to a misfired mortar strike” in the same zone, saying that a single mortar round would not have enough firepower to take out such a large number of vehicles. The damage might have been caused by a larger projectile guided by electronic systems that may have been interfered with during flight. Given the range and complexity of cyber interference, the source of the attack could have been from thousands of kilometres or from only a few hundred metres away. This raises concerns on how vulnerable the country is when it comes to cyber attacks.